​I​nterview Series

Written portraits of artists whose work has been featured in Notas al Futuro exhibitions.

Lara Tabet

"The human mind is a tortuous place, quicksands unstable fluke quicksands."

Considering the word “I” the most dangerous, Lara Tabet is a Lebanese visual artist working mostly in photography. She holds a degree in clinical pathology by the American University of Beirut and was granted with the Lisette Model scholarship while attending to the One Year Certificate Program at the International Center of Photography in 2013.
Tabet’s work has been broadly exhibited and featured both in Lebanon and abroad.

Do you prefer animals to people?
I think I prefer books and movies. I prefer puppies to babies but not animals to people except for lionesses and white tigers maybe.

Tell me exactly how you feel, right now.
I am anxious. I just moved in to a new apartment. You can see the sea from the window and the sun setting in the horizon and filling the sky with bright pinks. But the building is a bit old and I have 33 neighbours. Today I will empty the remaining boxes but I already said that yesterday.

What personal myth does your work reveal?
Pre trauma, Trauma and post trauma. Both on a personal intimate level but also on a historical socio-political level as well. I search for the relationship between the individual and the collective with regards to the “wound”. I work mostly on the liminal space where these two intertwine. The fringes are what interest me the most, inter sectional areas, whether between fiction and reality or between the private and the public. I like the idea of the photographer as agitator of status quo, and use the camera as a transgressive tool. Sometimes the transgression is physical as when I go photograph in places where I’m not allowed to, sometimes the transgression is of a more symbolical nature, as when Ii try to play with gender stereotypes.

Describe the relationship you find between science and art.
I am trained as a pathologist so I don’t really dichotomize science and art. My work as a doctor is one that is not at all alien to my practice as an artist. Pathology is both a very visual and chemical discipline. I spend my days looking through a microscope and analyzing body fluids. And my nights looking through a lens and developing colors. Not long ago, art and sciences where under the broader name of metaphysics. And most artists where scientists and vice versa. I like this version of the world much better. Often medicine seeps into my photography. For example, in underbelly, I used microscopy to depict body fluids. I also used DNA fingerprinting in a public art project and my latest piece is a bacteria from the Beirut river grown on color film.

Are you cruel?
Not really I would have too much residual guilt feeling from my catholic upbringing. Maybe in love, I can cause pain. But usually I am kind but distant.

Are you cool?
I hear. I can be very calm and grounding to others, I am very easygoing and remain cool on the outside even when not so much inside.

What qualities do you look for in people?
The ability to laugh at oneself, I don’t like people who take themselves very seriously. So mostly I look for humor, wit and  and dynamism (the last one is a bit selfish, I tend to surround myself with dynamic people to surf on their energy because I can  be very lazy)

Are often disappointed?
Yes,yes, yes.
That is my biggest flaw I think.

Of what are you most afraid?
The future

What is your favorite color for shoes?

Do you have many friends?
I wish… Not really but I have good friends. Also I constantly meet new people in new countries that cross my paths and that I sometimes see again and I find that grand!

What shocks you? If anything?

What is the most hopeful word in any language?
Light-Lumiere-Nour in arabic

And the most dangerous?

If you could be a food ingredient what would you be and why?
Wasabi. Not everyone likes it but once you try it everything without it seems bland and tasteless.

What are your political interests?
I come from Beirut. We are a third war country at the forefront of many wars.
I hold dear to my heart any refugee crisis,
I hate powerful states that displace people out of their homes and take no responsibility.
What I mean to say is that I hate impunity. Other than that, I believe in respecting a caring for the resources of this planet.

Suppose you were drowning. What images, in the classic tradition, do you envision crossing through your mind?
None, I think these moments are not visual sadly. I would just cut to black, I almost drowned this summer, I was exhausted and couldn’t take an additional wave then the sea calmed down. Had it not, I don’t think I would have seen the romantic sweeping of images some people depict.

What is mystery for Lara Tabet?
Everything and this is what makes life great. The familiar can regain its strangeness in the blink of a second. The human mind is a tortuous place, quicksands unstable fluke quicksands.


For more info about Lara, check out her upcoming exhibitions:

Unseen Amsterdam Sept 21
Musée Sursock Oct 24th
San Sebastián Oct 26th
Paris Photo Nov 9th




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